Depression is a mental health condition that has been steadily growing in its prevalence, especially among younger people, both in the United States and worldwide. Usually, treatment through therapy and medication is the standard approach for many of these patients, and it has good results. However, people with Major depressive disorder (MDD) could be resistant to conventional treatment. For many patients, who have tried various pharmaceutical interventions, TMS treatment might be the only option. It has more impactful results for patients whose symptoms persist under standard treatment.
What is TMS For Depression?
TMS is an acronym for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, a non-invasive magnetic treatment that changes the mood of patients dealing with depression. Also known as repetitive TMS, the therapy involves exciting and stimulating neuronal brain cells through the delivery of pulses from a magnetic field. The stimulation is painless and causes no physical sensations in the patient’s brain throughout the session. The pulses cause the release of vital neurotransmitters because they imitate the brain’s neurons.
How Does TMS Work?
The science behind the therapy is groundbreaking and quite intriguing because it is a lot like hacking into the biology of the patient’s brain. The procedure usually starts with the doctor attaching the TMS device close to the left prefrontal cortex of the patient’s brain. This part of the brain has low metabolic and functional activity in patients dealing with depression.
- The Science
The device contains a magnetic coil that creates the magnetic field, produces the pulses, and continues until the end of the session. A session runs for about nineteen minutes but with the introduction of accelerated TMS a treatment session lasts just under 4 minutes. During that time, the electric currents stimulate chemical reactions in the brain that improve the patient’s mood. Many doctors recommend thirty sessions of repetitive TMS over six weeks. Also, the magnetic impulses may cause physical discomfort from the weight or the device’s material at the treatment site.
What Are the Benefits of TMS?
Firstly, TMS is quite effective in patients with treatment-resistant depression, which is the first and most critical benefit. It is also the best way to deal with symptoms for patients with unipolar major depression who have been unsuccessful with one drug. Moreover, although there are other products that are similar to TMS, none of them are as safe. It is because the pulses are not deep penetrating, preventing adverse effects and being more precise.
How Long Do the Effects Last?
The results from the TMS treatment can last long, and patients who get this treatment report significant improvements in their moods. On the other hand, for those whose symptoms remain, they often notice a significantly lower intensity in their moods, making it easier for them to deal with them. The therapy results vary depending on the unique condition each patient is dealing with at the time.
However, the average time for the results is between six months to a year. The vast difference accounts for the variation in the intensity of depressive symptoms. There have also been cases where the results lasted over a year, especially for patients with mild depressive symptoms.